Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have expressed concern over the safety of Fulani herdsmen resident in the southern part of the country and ordered them to relocate to the North following various threats to their lives by the southerners.
Addressing newsmen at a media briefing in Abuja after their meeting, the Northern Coalition’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, frowned at the utterances by some southerners since the brutal death of the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Fashoranti, urging the Elders Forum to endorse that Fulani’s forego their rights of living in any part of the country and return home.
Reading their resolutions, the coalition begged the Elders Forum that: “Based on our observations, and the fact that the instigation of hatred against the Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advise the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum to consider calling on the Fulani to forego their right to live and flourish anywhere in the South and relocate to their various states in the North to ensure their safety noting the inherent return value of such denial.”
Responding to the coalition’s request, Chairman of the Elders Forum, Ango Abdullahi, said that if there is no certainty that their safety is guaranteed in the places where they are residing, they won’t mind having them back to places where their safety would be guaranteed.
Based on “the reactions we are getting from some sections of the country, especially from leaders which ought to be more restrained concerning the sensitive nature of the issue, we want to assure them that the NEF will take up this issue to find a solution.
“There is a need that everything must be done to avoid escalation of this matter that it will lead to the breakdown of law and order in this country. If there is no certainty that their safety is guaranteed in the places where they are residing, we rather have them back into places where their safety would be guaranteed.
“I think that the NEF will like to take this opportunity to emphasis again to the leadership of the North and other sections that this is a country we want to keep together not at the expense of any other section of the country.
“If there is going to be a follow up on compensation, our recommendation should, therefore, be a judicial public inquiry or panel be set up for people to come and make their claim. If the compensation would be paid by government, it should be to all sides that have suffered losses,” Abdullahi noted.
Highlighting the observations that compelled them to request for the return of Fulani, the coalition said: “Within the grace period since our last statement, we watched with concern the escalation of the collective resolve of the southern leaders in rejecting every initiative for the resettlement of the Fulani which did not preclude the use of inciting and provocative languages to instigate hatred against northerners, particularly herders living in the South.
“Specifically, the southern governors had on 9th July gone ahead to issue a joint decision to stop the unhindered movement of herders and cattle in all the southern states. The governors even arrogated to themselves powers to decide which category of herdsmen can be allowed to live in the South and others whom they tagged as criminal elements.
“This resolution by the governors had inspired the Ohanaeze youths to issue a one-week ultimatum after which they would force all herders in the South to comply with the movement restriction imposed by their governors.
“Also within the same period, some section of the southern leadership had introduced a fresh round of instigations by indiscriminately blaming the death of the daughter of the Afenifere leader Fashoranti on the Fulani and threatening reprisals on northerners contrary to the on-the-spot account of her own driver and the official explanation by the police that the culprits were yet to be identified.
“Throwing caution to the winds, Gani Adams, Fani Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and a host of other southern regionalists shamelessly insisted on changing the narratives around the killing of the Fashoranti lady. In the process, they threatened all forms of violations and breaches against northerners including the threat of an all-out war,” he noted.
Expressing concerns over the extent situations have degenerated, the coalition quipped: “With all these statements and steps taken by the southern governors and opinion leaders, we are worried that none of the northern governors or federal official has deemed it apt to caution them.
“The failure or neglect of the police to trace a connection between the Fashoranti murder and the seeming prearranged conduct of Fani Kayode, Odumakin and Adams by their haste to shift the blame in order to render the Fulani object of attack is certainly suspicious.
“We are concerned about the sincerity of the Federal government in implementing the NLTP going by the manner previous efforts at executing development projects like the Mambila hydro-electric power project and several initiatives on the herdsmen dilemma were invariably stalled.
“We are equally worried that the NLTP is vested in the office of the vice president that is believed to have frustrated previous projects meant for the North.
“We find it difficult to trust the commitments of this government which has for the past four years failed to execute any positive initiative towards resolving the herders’ problems nor shown any encouraging concern for the dilemma of the Fulani who have been attacked in various states,” the coalition stressed.